BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
The psalm is a prayer at time when David was brought into distress by the malice of his enemies. David experienced many such times. In fact there was scarcely a time in his life to which Psalm 5 may not be utilised. For in this he was a type of Christ, continually beset with enemies. His powerful and continued appeals to God pointed at Christ’s dependence on His Father and His triumphs over the powers of darkness in the midst of His sufferings. In this psalm David settles a dialogue between his soul and God, all of which is of great use to direct us in prayer.
Psalm 5 – Psalm of David
Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You. But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favour You will surround him as with a shield.
God is a prayer-hearing God
Henry says – God is a prayer-hearing God. He has always been known as such since man first began to call on His name. And He is still as ready as ever to hear our prayer today. David had an eye to God. He addresses Him as: O Lord (Ps. 5:1, 3), Jehovah, a self-existent, self-sufficient, Being, whom we are bound to adore. “My King and my God (Ps. 5:2), to whom I have sworn allegiance, and under whose protection I have put myself as my King.” We believe that the God we pray to is a King, and a God. King of kings and God of gods. The most encouraging principle of prayer, and the most powerful plea in prayer, is to look upon him as our King and our God.
David here prays in a way which should encourage our faith and hopes in all our addresses to God. If we pray fervently, and in faith, we have reason to hope that God will take notice of our case. For so he here prays: Give ear to my words, O Lord! Though God is in heaven, He has an ear open to His people’s prayers. Men perhaps will not or cannot hear us. Our enemies are so haughty that they will not and our friends at such a distance that they cannot. But God, though in heaven can and will. He will take it into His wise and compassionate consideration, and will not turn it over with a cursory answer.
We ask, and have not, if we ask amiss
Consider my meditation. David’s prayers were also his meditations. As meditation is the best preparation for prayer, so meditation and prayer go together, Ps. 19:14. Listen to the voice of my cry, (Ps. 5:2). His prayer was the voice of his cry, which denotes fervency of expression. Such effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much and does wonders. This may guide us in our address to God, that we may present them aright.
David here promises that he will pray, and make sure of it: Unto You will I pray. “Others live without prayer, but I will pray.” “Others pray to strange gods, and expect relief from them, but to You and You only, will I pray.” The assurances God has given us of His readiness to hear prayer should confirm our resolution to live and die praying. David promised to pray in the morning. His praying voice shall be heard then, but not only then (“Morning, and evening and at noon, will I pray, seven times a day, will I praise thee”). In the mornings certainly. Morning prayer is our duty. We are the fittest for prayer when we are the most lively and not yet filled with the business of the day. We then have most need of prayer, considering the dangers and temptations of the day to which we are exposed.
Do what seems good to You
David declares that he will have his eye single and his heart intent: I will direct my prayer, as a marksman directs his arrow. We ought to address ourselves to God, as our Father in heaven, with the same steadiness of mind. Or as we direct a letter to a friend, so must we direct our prayers to God. And let us always send them by the Lord Jesus, the great Mediator, and then they will be sure to arrive. All our prayers must be directed to God; His honour and glory must be aimed at as our highest end in all our prayers. As Jesus taught us, Hallowed, glorified, be Thy name, and then we may be sure of an answer.
We are to patiently wait for an answer of peace: “I will look up, and hear what God the Lord will speak (Ps. 85:8; Hab. 2:1). If He grant what I asked, I will be thankful—if He deny, I will be patient—if He defer, I will continue to pray and wait.” We may expect that God will give ear to our words and consider them. David did not pray, “Lord, do this, or the other, for me;” but, “Listen to me, consider my case, and do what seems good to You.”
They shall not be smiled upon
God is pure and holy and sin-hating, Ps. 5:4-6. As a warning to himself, and all other praying people David reminds us that if we hold iniquity in our heart, He will not hear our prayers, Ps. 66:18. When he says, You are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness, he means, “You are a God that hates it, as directly contrary to Your infinite purity and holy will.” Though the workers of iniquity prosper, let no one infer that God has pleasure in wickedness. Let those therefore who delight in sin know that God has no delight in them. Nor let anyone say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God is not the author of sin.
In the justice of His government the foolish shall not stand in His sight, that is, shall not be smiled upon by God. Sin is folly, and sinners are the greatest of all fools. Whilst God hates nothing that He has made, but fools practice what He hates. Wicked people hate God, therefore justifiably they are hated by Him, and it will be their endless misery and ruin.
We must stir ourselves up
There is a particular emphasis laid on all liars (Rev. 21:8), and (Ps. 22:15), Whosoever loves and makes a lie. Nothing is more hateful to the God of truth. He also abhors those who are cruel: You will abhor the bloody man. Inhumanity is no less hateful, to the God of mercy. Liars and murderers are said to resemble the devil and to be his children, and therefore it may well be expected that God should hate them. These were the characters of David’s enemies and are still the enemies of Christ and His church. The worse men be lost to all virtue and honour, the surer we may be of their ruin in due time.
In singing and praying over Psalm 5, we must engage and stir ourselves up to the duty of prayer, and encourage ourselves in it. In Ps. 5:7-12 David gives an account of himself and prays for himself, Ps. 5:7, 8. He is steadfastly resolved to keep closely to God and to His worship.
Not in any merit or righteousness of his own
God’s holiness and justice are very far away from being a terror to the upright in heart. Instead they are invited to cleave to Him. David resolves to worship God, to pay homage to Him, and give unto God the glory due to His name. He will worship Him publicly: “I will come into Your house, the courts of Your house, to worship there with other faithful worshippers.” David was often in secret worship and prayer (Ps. 5:2, 3), and yet was very constant and devout in his attendance in the sanctuary.
He worshipped Him reverently: “In Your fear will I worship, with a holy awe of God upon my spirit,” Heb. 12:28. God is greatly to be feared by all His worshippers. David confides in the inexhaustible treasures of God’s mercy and the innumerable proofs of it. Not in any merit or righteousness of his own. The mercy of God should be the foundation of all our hopes and joy in all our interactions with Him. He earnestly prays that God, by His grace, would guide and preserve him always (Ps. 5:8): Lead me in Your righteousness, because of my enemies.
By wisdom and grace, good may come out of evil
David’s enemies were keen to spy on his faults, that they might accuse him. This made him more cautious to avoid sin and all appearances of it. Thus, by wisdom and grace, good may come out of evil. David committed himself to divine guidance. He begged of God to direct him in the right way, and keep him from turning from it. God prescribes to us His just and holy laws and it is our duty to follow after God’s way, and His righteousness. If we sincerely set these before us as our rule, we may in faith beg of God to direct us in all our ways.
David’s enemies were very bad characters. If they had not been bad men, they would not have been enemies to a man after God’s own heart. He had spoken (Ps. 5:6) of God hating the bloody and deceitful man. “Now, Lord,” he says, “that is the character of my enemies: they are deceitful; there is no trusting them, for there is no faithfulness in their mouth.” They thought it was no sin to tell a deliberate lie if it might but blemish David, and render him hated by all. “Lord, lead me,” he says (Ps. 5:8). They flatter with their tongues designed to cover their malice. Whatever they pretend of faith or friendship, two sacred things, they are true to neither: Their inward part is wickedness itself.
Father, Your will be done
They are likewise bloody; for their throat is an open grave, which it never says, It is enough,” Prov. 30:15, 16. This is quoted in (Rom. 3:13) to show the general corruption of mankind. They are all naturally prone to malice, Titus 3:3. If his prayer against them is heard, as no doubt it is, they are in a bad condition. He prays to God to destroy them (according to what he had said in Ps. 5:6; “You shall destroy men of this character,” so let them fall). Cast them out of His protection and favour, out of the heritage of the Lord, out of the land of the living; and woe to those whom God casts out. “They have by their sins deserved destruction”.
David pleads, “They have rebelled against You. Had they been only my enemies, I could safely have forgiven them. But they are rebels against God, His crown and dignity. They oppose His government, and will not repent and therefore I foresee their ruin.” His prayer for their destruction comes not from a spirit of revenge, but from a spirit of prophecy, by which he foretold that all who rebel against God will certainly be destroyed by their own counsels. If it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to those that trouble His people, as we are told in (2 Thess. 1:6). Then we pray that it may be done whenever we pray, Father, Your will be done.
This is true and pure religion
He then gives an account of God’s people, and prays for them with an assurance of their bliss. They are the righteous (Ps. 5:12); for they put their trust in God. They are well assured of His power and all-sufficiency. They trust all upon His promises and are confident of His protection. His people love His name and take delight in their relationship with Him.
This is true and pure religion, to live a life of dependence on God. His prayer for them was: “Let them rejoice. Let them have cause and hearts to rejoice. Fill them with joy, with great and unspeakable joy. Let them shout for joy, with a constant and perpetual joy. Let them rejoice because You defend them, cover them and dwell among them.”
Those whom You bless are blessed indeed
Let us learn to pray like David, not only for ourselves, but for all good people who trust in God and love His name. Let all that are entitled to God’s promises have a share in our prayers. Grace be with all who love Christ in sincerity. He takes them into his prayers because they are God’s peculiar people. He does not doubt that his prayers shall be heard. They are happy in the assurance of God’s blessings: “You, Lord, will bless the righteous. You in Your Word have pronounced them blessed, and therefore will make them truly so. Those whom You bless are blessed indeed.”
“It will be to him a diadem of beauty, and make him truly great. You will compass about him and surround him on every side, as with a shield.” A shield, in war, guards only one side, but the favour of God is to the saints a defense on every side. Like the hedge around Job, so that, while they keep themselves under divine protection, they are entirely safe and ought to be entirely satisfied. In singing and praying over Psalm 5, we must by faith put ourselves under God’s guidance and care. His people shall triumph in Him and in His salvation. And God shall triumph at the last over all His enemies.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The First Hour Give Me of your first fruits That which is fresh and new. What I would like to keep I must give to You. Does that mean what I think it does The first hour of the day. Surely there is a more convenient time For me to kneel and pray. That precious hour or so When I can slowly come around. O how difficult it is some days Just to put one foot on the ground. To claim that hour for myself Wouldn’t really be odd; But who am I robbing If I am not robbing God. The truth is I’m robbing myself Of the true source of power Let me joyfully give to You That first precious hour. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. Thank You that You assure me that if I pray fervently, and in faith, I have reason to hope that You will take notice of my case. I know You are ready to hear my prayer. May I live to pray each day and be in communion with You. As I present my requests to You help me to wait patiently for an answer in peace. May I like David trust in You to do what seems good to You. Yet Your Word also says that if I hold iniquity in my heart, You will not hear our prayers. Reveal to me if there is any iniquity in me and grant me the gift of repentance. May I be steadfastly resolved to keep close to You and reverently worship You. Your mercy is the foundation of all my hopes and my joy in all things. By Your grace please guide and preserve me always. I commit myself and all my ways to You. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.